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Search Engine Optimization

Updated at 2015-02-05 15:28

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of improving page ranking on search results.

There are two ways of doing SEO:

  • White Hat Techniques: SEO techniques that search engines approve.
- Fix HTML and crawler errors in Google Webmaster Tools.
- Setup web analytics to track goals.
- Adjust HTML title tags.
- Expand all content pages to over 500 words.
- Setup basic social media integration.
- Claim your business in Google Maps.
- Setup a blog and start writing 2-3 posts a week.
- Link building.
  • Black Hat Techniques: SEO techniques that search engines don't approve. These techniques are a gamble as they might get your website to the first position or they might get your website removed from the search results altogether.
- Content which is hidden for the normal visitors, but shown on crawlers.
- Serving different content for search engine bots than normal visitors.
- Creating automatic search queries in Google and selecting your website.
- Usage of unrelated keywords.
- Creating multiple pages with the same content but different domain
  without proper metalinks.
BMW.de website was blocked by Google in 2006 because of black hat techniques.

Must SEO techniques are page specific. While a domain has shared effect on search result rankings, most SEO techniques are applied to specific pages. You should at least optimize the home page.

Prepare for SEO sabotage:

  • To notice someone is generating negative SEO for you, you should configure email notifications from Google Webmaster Tools.
  • Use disavow tool so Google knows not to take those sites into account.
  • To check if someone is duplicating your content, use Copyscape

Search for your brand frequently. Ideally, your own website should be number one and all first page Google results should be sources moderated by you.

Only focus on Google. Bing, DuckDuckGo and others have no value. Yandex has some value in Russia and Baidu in China. If you rank high on Google, you are fine as large majority of people use Google and other search engines will probably follow automatically.

Being the first search result on Google is your target.
Being on the first page is OK.
Being on the second page is bad.
Being on the third page is useless.

Social media updates have close to no SEO value. You can use social media to promote content and drive traffic, which can improve your search engine rank but the updates themselves don't boost your search engine score. Social media is also important in social marketing.

Google+ is a little fishy as of 2014. Google+ is not a social network, it is a ghost town. It has no real people that would share your content enough to go viral. But Google+ updates has strange interaction with Google search results. So, if you do content marketing, post on Google+ just to improve your search rankings.

Provide Google Authorship data. Allows you to add author image to search results on Google which improves click-through rate.

Include meta data for sharing networks. Facebook Open Graph, Twitter Cards and Google+ Schema. These will increase clicks on shares. There is also meta data related to Google+ Authorship and Google+ Publisher.

Prefer having at least a few long pages for search engines. More text allows search engines to figure out what is our content for. Many websites do this by having a blog, which goes well with content marketing.

Content marketing posts should have at least 2000 words.
Other pages should be around 900 words.

Multiple subdomains are bad for ranking. It weakens your domain authority, reducing search result rankings.

# bad
http://blog.example.com

# good
http://example.com/blog

Fast loading improves ranking. Search engine crawlers don't wait for long. You can measure load times with Google Analytics. When a page takes more than 3 seconds to load, you are in trouble. To improve loading speed, check out web development notes.

Reduce bounce rate. When Google notices increased time on site, your rankings will improve. Add images so people will spend more time on the page.

Top ranking sites have an average of 7 images in them.

Appearing active improves ranking. Having a blog or other dynamic content improves page rankings.

Think what you can use to generate hits. Depending on the website and service you offer, you can find extra content that boosts your search engine presence.

Implement public user profiles and then you get hits by name search.

Use Screaming Frog. Screaming Frog will crawl your website check for any errors. You can also check which images are the biggest and optimize those. Works for local websites too.

mention.net allows you to crawl web for mentions of your brand. You can reach out to them, thank them and ask them to include backlinks to your site.

  1. Sign up.
  2. Create alert.
  3. Enter name: dorisdoris
  4. Enter keywords: dorisdoris
  5. Select languages, probably only English.
  6. If you are checking your imago, select all sources in the next page.
  7. If you are doing only SEO, deselect Facebook, Twitter, Forums and Videos as search engines do not crawl those.
  8. Now you know websites who are talking about you.

Keywords

Use 2 or 3 keywords per page. Use Google Ads Keyword Planner to figure out the keywords. Look for keywords that have many searches but low competition.

https://adwords.google.com/KeywordPlanner
    -> Tools
        -> Get search volume for a list of keywords...
            -> Place multiple keywords
                -> Check which words are the most searched
                    -> Take 2 or 3 of the most searched keywords
websites, websites austin, web design austin
    web design         165 000
    websites            40 500
    web design austin    1 000
    websites austin         10

Place those keywords on pages you want to show up on Google. You should at least optimize the main landing page.

  1. the page <title>, under 55 characters, mention at least one keyword
  2. the first <h1> on the page, you should have only one <h1> per page, a good practice is to have <h1> to be the same as <title> but without the domain name
  3. in the page URL, first 5 words get the most weight
  4. meta description, which is the text that shows on Google search results
  5. <img> alt and title attributes
  6. image file names
  7. use at least one keyword in the first 150 words of the page content
  8. all keywords you use must also relate to the page content

Additional domains are hard to utilize. Keywords in the domain itself work only if you don't do a redirect.

Use synonyms. Avoid repeating the target keyword too much, use synonyms.

Keywords are divided to three classes. You should focus on the B and C class names that have good amount of searches per month.

  • A-class Keyword: general words e.g. car.
  • B-class Keyword: brand e.g. Audi.
  • C-class Keyword: product name e.g. A3.

Prefer long tail searches over singular keywords. Competition on singular keywords is usually too tough.

Use existing sites to with Google Ads Keyword ideas tool. Check which keywords direct to Wikipedia sites related to your product, sub-reddits related to your product and competing product web sites. Filter keywords that have over 1000 monthly searches but cost under $2. Bid on those keywords and create content based on those keywords.

<title>: Title is optimally less than 60 characters but never over 80 characters. Important keywords near the beginning. Each title should be unique, and the unique part comes first.

<title>Page Title - Domain</title>

name="description": Description should be less than 155 characters. Provides no straight ranking value but improves how the search result is displayed, which leads more clicks, which leads to better ranking. Each page should have unique description.

<meta name="description" content="This is an example.">

HTML meta keywords have no SEO value. They have been too abused in the past so they are not used in rankings.

A/B testing on keywords. More about this in A/B testing notes.

Keywords take time to take effect. When you make a change to keywords used on your site, it will take two or three weeks to show the final results so be patient.

Link Building

Link building is the process of planning, requesting and setting up links that direct to your website. Those links that direct to your website are called backlinks. Backlinks, especially those coming from other websites, boost website ranking on search engines. But good internal links are also important, especially for navigation and content management.

Placing links in the following places won't straight up boost your ranking:

  • External blog comments.
  • Sidebar of another blog.
  • Forum and website profiles.
  • Web directories.
  • Social media and other very dynamic content.

Use only links with your company name as the anchor text:

  • Press releases.
  • Forum signatures.

Contact brand sites. For each brand you sell, check if the brand has a list of "authorized retailers" on their website. Ask to get your site in there.

Give discounts to selected local and national groups. Contact their website administrator to link to your discount page on their website.

Give out scholarships to educational institutes. Contact their website administrator to link to your website that talks about the scholarship.

ScrapeBox helps you to find sites where you should get links to your site.

  1. Add keywords e.g. marketing and blogging.
  2. Make sure Google is selected in search engines.
  3. Make sure you are using proxies so Google does not ban you.
  4. You can buy proxies from proxy51.com, 8 is a good number.
  5. Test your proxies before you run, Manage -> Test Proxies -> Test all proxies.
  6. Remove useless, Filter -> Keep Google proxies.
  7. Save them, Save -> Save proxies to ScrapeBox.
  8. Start by clicking Start Harvesting.
  9. Remove duplicates, Remove /Filter -> Remove Duplicate URLs.
  10. Find quality sites, Check Pagerank -> Get URL/Domain Pagerank.
  11. Sort by pagerank, Click PR.

ahrefs.com allows you to see where other major sites get their backlinks.

  1. Get a high standing website with ScrapeBox or Google.
  2. Paste URL to ahrefs.com.
  3. Go to Backlinks -> External.
  4. Check what sites link to them and reach out to them if they would also like to include your site.

Open Site Explorer allows you to see how links to a specific site.

Broken Link Finder shows broken links on a site, broken links lower search rankings.

Google Webmaster Tools

Google Webmaster Tools allows you to manage how Google shows your website in search results. It also provides information how you can boost your rank in Google search results. Webmaster Tools are a lot simpler than most analysis tools and even more important so it is a good place to start SEO.

Login -> Add Site -> Verify by uploading a file or including meta info.

Check that Google finds your robots.txt and sitemap. With robots.txt you can specify which pages to show on search results and which to ignore. Sitemap tells Google where to find content and how frequently the content will update.

Structured Data: You can show your picture and additional info on the Google search results. If you are hosting an event, you can make Google show a map next to results. People click search results with images more frequently.

Re-indexing is nice. You can request Google to re-index your website or individual pages. Good after you change your website and want to see how changes affect the way you look on search results. If you do this too much, it will stop re-indexing on command for a while.

Google does not search the web when you do a search
Google only searches their own data about known websites.
Data Google's indexes are gathered by bots called "spiders".

Shows which of your keywords work the best. You can see what people have searched when they got your website on the search results. Google Analytics gives better information on this though.

Other important:

  • You can see who have linked to your website.
  • You can see crawl statistics e.g. the last crawl.

Google Analytics

Google analytics is essential to track returns of your investments. More about this in Google Analytics notes.

Sources